In part 1, we made a 4000 year jump from antiquity to Thomas Jefferson’s memories of his aunt’s irresistible pickles. Another famous historical figure must be mentioned who was instrumental in introducing pickles to our tables.
Christopher Columbus brought pickles to the New World. They were eaten on ships as a means to prevent scurvy. Columbus and his men are believed to have grown cucumbers during a stay in Haiti in order to replenish their supply for subsequent voyages.
Pickles were highly valued in colonial America since they were the only green and zesty food available throughout the year. Jacques Cartier found cucumbers growing in Canada in 1535 and cucumbers were known to the colonists of Virginia in the early 17th century. Dutch farmers residing in what is now Brooklyn, NY, grew cucumbers. The year was 1659. They sold their harvest to dealers who cured the cucumbers in barrels prior to selling them at market stalls, notably on Canal street, where the American canning industry was born.
Pickled cucumbers have long enjoyed great popularity in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. In the ancient world, people of all social classes, from the wealthy to the pauper, relied on the pickle as standard fare on their plates.
The complexity of a container often reveals the importance of a food in society at any given time. This is true of the Pickle Castor of the 19th century. At that time, many families pickled their own cucumbers, grown in modest private gardens. Pickles were an integral part of the daily fare and in many households they were kept in a very ornate ceramic or glass Pickle Castor that resided in the center of dining table at all times. Today, the fancy Pickle Castor has been replaced by the somewhat less personable pickle jar for obvious reasons: commerce and transportation.
We must conclude with a Pickle Sandwich…
Roasted red pepper hummus (brand of choice)
Pickles (Kosher style), sliced lengthwise
1- Top both slices of bread with Cheddar, to taste.
2- Toast in the oven until cheese begins to melt.
3- Spread one slice with hummus.
4- Top with pickles.
5- Garnish with greens and add top bread slice.
6- Serve with coleslaw and with a natural, flavored sparkling water.
Variation: Add thinly sliced ham, bundled, or any meat of choice. Also try this sandwich un-toasted. De-li-cious!